There is clinical evidence for Bacopa Monnieri’s efficacy in improving memory formation, reducing anxiety, and improving one’s ability to deal with stressors. As an adaptogen, b. Monnieri, in theory, can ward off the tiredness that often accompanies stimulant use (the inevitable crash – what comes up does not necessarily need to come down just as fast – thank goodness.
In vitro Brahmi is an antioxidant. In animals it inhibits acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine), activates acetylcholinesterase, and encourages blood flow in the brain. Bacosides A and B improve electrical signalling between neurons. In animal models it shows promise in alleviating the effects of neurodegenerative disease. Because of these properties Brahmi has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to address a variety of conditions for millennia, and more recently in the West is being tested on a vast array of infirmities, for which peer-reviewed evidence from the laboratory is steadily mounting. Studies like Pase et. al have shown it assists in recall, which might be why it was purportedly used by Vedic scholars to memorize large amounts of text.
Over a twelve week study conducted by Calabrese et. al found improved word recall, enlarged attention, higher scores on memory tests, and less reported anxiety (as well as a lower heart rate) in subjects given Brahmi compared to the control. However, instant results should not be expected. The herb’s real benefits do not begin to manifest until the eighth week of use. This is good for both consumers and researchers to keep in mind, as a study with a shorter duration will fail to detect any significant cognitive improvements. Changes in anxiety levels, however, can come much sooner – between 1 to 3 days (so at least you’ll be nice mellow enough to wait for your brain to start working better).
In 2009 Singh and Singh found that extracts of b. Monieiri improve spermatogenesis (in mice)…
But my guess is you’re not here to increase your sperm count (though if you are, that’s cool too). Brahmi has been used for a very long time. Side effects are rare, but can include fatigue and gastrointestinal upset. It can be useful for Alzheimer’s, normal age-related cognitive decline, ADHD, IBS, and those who need a general purpose tonic to help them with the stresses of their day. I think that covers nearly everyone.
Like all herbs one must look for quality. Like most supplements, one should look for synergy. Allysian Science’s flagship product, MasterMind, is composed of a blend of ingredients that compliment each other, all of which are certified organic, kosher, and most every other pleasant sounding certification imaginable. Moreover, they are processed in a cGMP certified facility, meaning it is maintaining current good manufacturing processes (don’t worry if the term was unfamiliar, originally I thought the c stood for Canadian).
Calabrese N.D., Gregory W.L., Leo M., Kraemer D., Bone K., Oken B. “Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2008 Jul; 14(6): 707–713. (Source)
Chowdhuri D.K., Parmar D., Kakkar P., Shukla R., Seth P.K., Srimal R.C. “Antistress effects of bacosides of Bacopa monnieri: modulation of Hsp70 expression, superoxide dismutase and cytochrome P450 activity in rat brain.” Phytotherapy Research 2002 Nov;16(7):639-45. (Source)
Dhanasekaran, M.; Tharakan, B.; Holcomb, L. A.; Hitt, A. R.; Young, K. A.; Manyam, B. V. (2007). “Neuroprotective mechanisms of ayurvedic antidementia botanical Bacopa monniera“. Phytotherapy Research. 21(10): 965–969. doi:10.1002/ptr.2195. PMID 17604373.
Jyoti A., Sharma D. “Neuroprotective role of Bacopa monniera extract against aluminium-induced oxidative stress in the hippocampus of rat brain.” Neurotoxicity 2006 Jul;27(4):451-7. (Source)
Pase MP, Kean J, Sarris J, Neale C, Scholey AB, Stough C (July 2012). “The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials”. J Altern Complement Med (Review). 18 (7): 647–52.